Country Collecting Decision Making Process

Are you the type of person that likes to collect countries? If so, you must have your own method of collecting countries? In this blog post, you will learn my country collecting decision making process. Hopefully, it can help you when it comes to making decisions on how to approach visiting all the countries in the world.

Why is it important to make a country collecting decision making process? Because life is short and if you take your time exploring each and every country thorough, you will NEVER visit all the countries in the world. Therefore, the best approach is to make a list of MUST fully explore countries versus countries that you will only visit as a check list country.

Also, there are countries that are dangerous and you definitely don’t want to stay in those countries long. Unless get a thrill from having your life in danger (not to mention worry your love ones), I think I make a good case for not staying too long in troubled countries.

Country collecting decision making process

When I’m making a decision to determine how I will approach country collecting, I make sure to categorize every country based on the three categories below:

Countries that must be thoroughly visited

In this list, I add all the countries I plan on visiting thoroughly. I might even live in these countries for a longer period of time because I like them so much. Some of these countries I’ve been to before and some I haven’t. Regardless, I have a personal interest in exploring these countries thoroughly and I fully plan on doing so in the future. When collecting countries, I also recommend you make your list of countries that you must thoroughly visit.

Here’s a list of countries that I’d like to thoroughly visit or come back to:

  • South Africa
  • Colombia
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Poland
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines

Countries with must see sights and destinations

For this list, my goal is to visit countries to see a specific sight. For example, when I was in Cambodia, I went there to specifically see Angkor Wat. I had no interest in exploring the country thoroughly except to see the famous temple complex and Phnom Penh.

I did the same thing when I saw the Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan and the Pyramids of Giza and Abu Simbel in Egypt.

When travelling, there are times you can’t see everything nor do you want to see everything. Sometimes, you go to a specific country for the sole purpose of seeing something specific and that’s good enough for you. So do make a list of must see places and visit those places. But, don’t feel bad you didn’t explore the country thoroughly regardless of other people’s opinion.

Examples of countries I haven’t visited yet but I have specific things I want to see (but have no interest in exploring the entire country thoroughly):

  • Mali – Timbuktu
  • Chile – Patagonia, Easter Island
  • Maldives – Over the water bungalow
  • Bhutan – Tiger’s nest
  • Nepal – Annapurna Circuit
  • Turkey – Cappadocia, Hagia Sophia
  • Libya – Leptis Magna

Check list countries

Check list countries are countries I don’t really have any interest visiting but I know I need to go to because I am collecting countries. Basically, if you are collecting countries, you’ll definitely visit some countries that you have absolutely no interest in visiting. At that point, your goal is to get in the country, then get out.

Examples of countries I haven’t visited yet and count as a checklist country:

  • Moldova
  • Mozambique
  • Malawi
  • Comoros
  • Chad
  • Burundi
  • South Sudan

How to approach the country collecting decision making process

After determining the category of each countries, it’s time to make a decision on how you will visit each of those countries. Below is an example on how I further categorize each of the countries I plan on visiting:

Safe countries – do independently

If it’s a country I want to visit thoroughly, then I will travel independently for the most part. I will also travel independently to all the safer countries regardless if they are a check list country or if that country has must-see sights and destinations.

Short on time – join a tour or get a guide

If I’m short on time and it’s a country with a lot of must-see sights and destinations, then I might opt to join a tour or get a guide just to speed things up.

Dangerous countries – join a tour or get a guide

For dangerous countries, I will make sure to join a tour or get a guide. There’s always safety in numbers and having a local guide who knows the ins and outs of that country will increase the safety of visiting that country by several fold.

When I travelled to Venezuela, I made sure to join a tour for the sole purpose of staying safe.

How to make country collecting more economical

Booking flights

Flying to so many countries is very expensive. Europe and Asia has budget airlines that makes things cheaper but regions like Africa doesn’t have this sort of luxury.

So, what’s the best way to make travelling to regions like Africa more economical if flights are expensive?

The single best way to save money on flights is by using frequent flyer miles. As a Canadian, we are lucky to have access to awesome frequent flyer programs like Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, and Alaska Airlines.

Aeroplan is especially amazing with the Aeroplan mini-RTW booking. Better yet, if you are collecting countries with Aeroplan mini-RTW, you can have 3 stopovers (countries you can explore thoroughly or visit must-see sights and destinations) as well as 13 under 24-hour layovers to tick off several check list countries. And you can do this Aeroplan mini-RTW booking on business class to make country collecting less stressful and more enjoyable.

So instead of paying thousands of dollars for your flights, you pay a few hundred instead!

Booking accommodations

When it comes to booking accommodations, the best ways to make it more economical lies in three different ways.

First, you can redeem hotel points from Marriott or Best Western in Canada (and more options if you have access to American credit cards) to get a free night stay at hotels.

Second, if those countries doesn’t have hotels where you can redeem points in, then you might opt to rough it out by staying in hostels and guest houses to save some money.

Third, you can always use hospitality exchange websites like Couchsurfing or Workaway to get free accommodations in exchange for volunteer work or keeping the host company.

I’ve personally use the hotel points redemption method before and I have no problem staying in hostels or guest houses if need be. As far as hospitality exchange goes, I have no problem doing volunteer work with Workaway again. 75% of my Workaway volunteer experience has been positive and would gladly do it again in the future.


Country collecting is not an easy, safe or budget friendly task. But with the strategies provided in this article, I hope it can help you in some way come up with a plan of action to help reduce your travel expenses and be able to see more of our world and complete the quest to visit all 193 UN recognized countries!

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